JREF fan Clare Zimmerman alerted us to this brilliant video that illustrates perfectly the basic problem with the all-too-common accusation that skeptics are closed-minded.
Because we rely on evidence before we decide whether a claim is correct or not, we skeptics are not closed-minded! Instead, we filter the ideas that get into our heads, allowing us to separate sense and nonsense. As the saying goes, have an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.
But the bar has been set even higher now: a new website has been created called Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Stark and grim, it has one purpose: to show how many preventable illnesses and preventable deaths have occurred due to unvaccinated people since Jenny McCarthy became the de facto face of the antivaccination movement. The website, created by skeptic Derek Bartholomaus, stops short of saying she is directly responsible for these illnesses and deaths, but her indirect responsibility is arguably relevant.
Don Lacey, known to chat room and forumites as AZAtheist, recently attended the Phoenix SkeptiCamp. I'll let him tell the story:
The meeting was held in Discovery Hall on the Arizona State University Campus with about 20 people attending. This was the fifth SkeptiCamp based on a conference concept called BarCamp which Reed Esau adopted for Skeptics. Obviously, Jim had put a lot of work into making this SkeptiCamp happen. Due to the sponsorship from Skeptics Society/Skeptic magazine, James Randi Educational Foundation, and Center for Skeptical Inquiry/Skeptical Inquirer magazine, the cost was free. Actually, it was better than free. In addition to the free T-shirts, there were books and magazines available for all the participants.
Jim Lippard began by talking about SkeptiCamp. The first rule of SkeptiCamp is that you talk about SkeptiCamp. BarCamp has 8 rules and the skeptics' version adds 9th rule: "Prepare to back up all stated claims."
There was a live blog being recorded by Tony Barnhart (Magic Tony); replay it and catch all the comments from the Blogosphere that occurred during the meeting.
Notable attendees included: Michael A. Stackpole of the Phoenix Skeptics on "Practical Techniques for Street Skepticism," John Lynch on "Academic Freedom and Intelligent Design," and Tony Barnhart on "Methods of the Pseudo-Psychic."
Conflicts of interest are a major point of concern within modern medicine. Ideally, physicians and patients want to make decisions based solely upon what is right for the patient; it is what we strive for. In the past it was commonplace for physicians to accept gifts from drug companies, some were small, a pen or a lunch, others were far more substantial. Many physicians thought they could benefit from the drug companies’ attention while remaining unaffected in their medical decision making. They were wrong.
In this May '04 Swift, you'll find a rather comprehensive item about Carla Baron, who owes the cupidity - if not the stupidity - of the media, for her continued success. Renata Galvan, who was a victim of this reckless endorsement of psychic powers, has some interesting news on the actual facts about Baron's involvement in the investigation of the murder of her son Tim:
I am writing you concerning so called psychic Carla Baron. I think you guys were absolutely correct that she is all out for the publicity. My son's case was featured on "Haunting Evidence" as its second episode.
Carla claims she was going in blind on the case, and that was so far from the truth. She talked to me EVERY DAY for several months, pretending to be my friend and to help me. All the while she would direct me to bulletin boards to praise her efforts and defend her when skeptics would write about her.